Ateneo's Kiefer Ravena goes to the basket against UE. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
Ravena explodes for new career high
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 2) Kiefer Ravena set a new career high in scoring and was lethal once again in crunch time as the Ateneo Blue Eagles overcame a double-digit first half deficit to break the hearts of the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 93-91, in overtime Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ateneo got off to a flat start, trailing by as much as 21 points in the second period, before roaring back in the game in the second half, thanks to Ravena. Chris Newsome and Von Pessumal also hit huge shots to help the Blue Eagles complete the pulsating come-from-behind win.
"If you have to go to the bottom line of this, it was just desire for us to be able to get back into that, from 21 points (down)," said Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol "And I always give it back to the leader, Kiefer."
"It doesn't matter whether he's going to score or not, but he is just, for me, the epitome of that 'can-do' attitude, regardless of the situation," he added. "Obviously, he was able to deliver in the end again."
Ravena scored a career-high 38 points, including the game-tying jumper that sent the game into overtime, made 19 of 25 free throws and dished out a season-high nine assists to power Ateneo to their sixth victory against one loss so far in the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament.
The win ensures that the Blue Eagles will finish the first round at the top spot of the standings, while sending the Red Warriors to their fourth consecutive loss of the season for a 2-4 win-loss record.
"We are ending the first round with a very good slate," Perasol said. "But it all goes back again to the second round. We have to prepare well, we have to rest, especially if we're going to find a way to replicate this round."
After trailing 38-17 in the second quarter, the Blue Eagles were able to string together a 17-0 run bridging the second and third frames to make it a one-possession game, 44-41.
Each Ateneo run was met by a corresponding UE run, however, with Roi Sumang leading UE in a 12-0 blast in the third quarter to hike the lead back to double-digits, 58-44.
It seemed as though the Red Warriors would finally end their losing streak when they led by 15, 73-58, early in the final qurter, but Ravena, Newsome and Pessumal waxed hot from beyond the arc. Moreover, Ateneo's small line-up that featured rookie Arvin Tolentino at center was able to neutralize UE center Charles Mammie.
After a Sumang jumper put UE on top, 80-75, with 51 seconds left, Ravena assisted on a Newsome and-1, while UE's Daryll Guiang committed a traveling violation on the other end. That was when Ravena showed off his nerves of steel in the clutch, draining the game-tying jumper with 23 seconds left, 80-all.
Sumang, who made five of his eight three-pointers in the game, would misfire from beyond the arc against the pesky defense of Nico Elorde, sending the game into overtime -- the first of Season 77.
UE took the lead for the last time in the extension after Bong Galanza knocked down a cold-blooded triple to make it 85-84 with 2:32 left, but two free throws by Newsome allowed Ateneo to regain the lead. Ravena then converted a floater over the out-stretched arms of Mammie to extend the lead to three, 88-85, but gave the Ateneo crowd a scare as he fell to the floor, clutching his right ankle.
The star guard again showed remarkable composure as, shrugging off the pain from the injury, Ravena drilled a three-pointer with less than a minute left to make it 91-85.
UE still had a shot to force a second extension after a five-point run orchastrated by Sumang, and Ravena missed two of four free throws in the last 13 seconds. A foul by rookie Thirdy Ravena sent Gino Jumao-as to the line with Ateneo on top 93-90, and Jumao-as made the first and deliberately missed the second.
But Tolentino, after struggling on offense all throughout the game, came up with a huge rebound in the end to finally put the finishing touches on Ateneo's remarkable comeback.
"It was a team effort," Perasol said after the game. "Newsome, Von, Nico and Arvin, and some of the big men who guarded Mammie also... But I have to give credit where credit is due, and that is with Kiefer."
Ravena -- and indeed the whole Ateneo team -- struggled on offense early in the game, which he attributed to the fact that they were playing their third game in the week, while UE was coming off a one-week rest.
"Medyo mahaba ang pahinga nila," Ravena said of UE. "As coach pointed out, it was a grind-out win again, which is usual for us."
Pessumal scored 19 points for Ateneo, making six of his seven three-point atttempts. "Ang mga three-points niya, sobrang timing," Ravena said of his teammate.
"Sobrang bilis (ng first round)," Ravena also said. "But we're lucky, we're blessed enough that we put ourselves in a situation that we never got to be last year, which is to be on top."
"Hopefully we can continue it and get confidence and learn from our mistakes in this game and in this round, and apply it in the second round," he added.
Sumang also set a new career-high with 30 points, but missed a potential game-winning three-pointer in regulation. He was also blocked by Tolentino during a potential game-tying attempt in overtime. The former Mythical Team member declined to talk to the media after the game.
Galanza added 19 points and Mammie finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds for his best game of the season so far.
The Red Warriors overwhelmed the Blue Eagles in the opening frame, using their pressure defense to force Ateneo to commit turnover after turnover. UE scored 12 points off Ateneo turnovers in the first period alone.
Meanwhile, Mammie dominated the smaller Ateneo frontline, muscling his way for 10 points in the opening period, and often grabbing his own missed lay-up for a putback shot. It was a free throw by Mammie off a Pessumal foul that gave UE a 26-6 lead with 1:20 to go in the first period.
UE led 28-10 entering the second quarter, and the lead grew to as large as 21 points, 38-17, after Renz Palma converted a lay-up on the break. To make matters worse for Ateneo, Tolentino was called for a technical foul with under six minutes to go, making him questionable for their next game.
The Blue Eagles cut the lead into a more manageable number, 44-31, entering halftime as they repeatedly drove to the basket, with Ravena and Newsome hitting free throws to trim the lead.
The Red Warriors shot 54.55% in the first half and held Ateneo to only eight field goals, or 26.67% shooting. UE would finish the game shooting a little under 46% from the field, while Ateneo made 38% of their field goals. The Red Warriors also committed more turnovers, 25-20, as the Blue Eagles settled down after a mistake-prone first period.
ADMU 93 - K. Ravena 38, Pessumal 19, Newsome 18, Elorde 4, Babilonia 4, Tolentino 3, Apacible 2, T. Ravena 2, Gotladera 2, Capacio 1, Porter 0.
UE 91 - Sumang 30, Galanza 19, Mammie 18, Varilla 6, Guiang 6, Jumao-as 4, Olayon 4, Palma 4, Arafat 0, Javier 0, Alberto 0.
Quarter-scoring: 10-28, 31-44, 55-64, 80-80, 93-91